Regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry that you’re operating in, every organization depends on technology – and more specifically, on software – to thrive.
In “the old days,” buying software was a needlessly complicated process. You had to purchase an individual license for every one of your end users. You would have to install the same program on all of those machines, one at a time. If an update for that program was released, it too would have to be executed manually. The list goes on and on.
If you needed to use that program to do your job, you had to be sitting in front of the physical machine it was installed on – meaning that “working from home” really wasn’t in the cards for most people.
Over the last few years in particular, the concept of software-as-a-service (otherwise known as SaaS) has come along to change all of this, for the better and for all-time. Now, applications are made available to customers over the Internet – meaning that you don’t have to install anything locally at all, you always have access to the latest version (meaning no more worrying about manual updates) and you can literally access that app from any computer or device on Earth with an active Internet connection.
Which, of course, is a pretty significant change from the way most people are used to thinking about software.
Therefore, growing a business in this type of scenario becomes a two-part process. First, you need to be publishing the type of software that organizations will come to rely on in the first place. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that part has already been taken care of.
But almost as importantly, you also need to educate your audience about why this is such an important change to make at this particular time. You need to inform them as to why this is so much better than what they’re used to, and inspire them to take action as soon as possible.
Which, of course, is where your SaaS marketing strategies come into play.
The Genesis of SaaS Marketing Strategies: Grow Your Marketing, Grow Your Business
By far, the most important thing you can do to help people understand how SaaS fits into their lives involves content marketing, and lots of it.
Even though SaaS itself isn’t necessarily a new concept, it will be somewhat foreign as an idea to a lot of the people you’ll be speaking to. So you don’t just need to act as an educator in this relationship – you need to take an inherently complicated topic and break it down in a way that literally anybody can understand.
This means you’ll want to create as much visual collateral as you can, coming at the subject – and the benefits of SaaS – from all angles. A service like Respona can be invaluable in terms of coming up with these types of topics.
You could use a graph maker like Visme (which I founded), for example, to highlight the differences in costs between the “old school” method of software procurement and distribution and this new model. One graph could break down the costs associated with buying countless licenses for a product, the manpower required to install it all, the internal costs people would have to go through to update and maintain it, etc. The next graph could illustrate how all of this is not only handled instantly, but by way of one flat monthly fee in a SaaS situation.
Rather than taking 1000 words to explain the differences, let those visual materials do your “talking” for you. This is how you quickly convey important information in a way that inspires people to take action.
Along the same lines, you could also create collateral that shows how much easier SaaS is than the more “traditional” model of software distribution. You could use a tree diagram maker to show just how complicated the process of getting even a modest application installed across an entire enterprise. Again, break down the process via the tree in as much detail as possible – after a program has been selected, you have to buy licenses, you have to install everything manually, you have to constantly check for updates, etc. Go into detail about the process of adding new licenses as your business continues to grow and why this can quickly become costly and complicated, too.
Then, create another tree diagram that shows the far more straightforward process of SaaS distribution. Once an application has been selected, you literally just have to specify your number of users and you gain access to everything you need. Short, sweet and to the point.
The contrast between the complicated, unwieldy “traditional software” tree diagram and the short, simple “SaaS” diagram will be far more effective at showing people what they stand to gain than a 1000 word blog post alone ever could.
Of course, there are other SaaS marketing strategies that you can use to grow your business that go beyond content marketing, too. If you believe in the product you’re offering, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t offer a limited free product trial. That way, people don’t have to take your word for it that you’re offering something innovative – they can “test drive” it on their own terms and see it with their own two eyes.
If you’re going to do this, however, you need to make sure that these prospects have the most pleasant experience possible – meaning that you can’t just throw them into the proverbial deep end of the pool and hope that they’re able to swim. You’ll need to make yourself available for conference calls and you want to work hard to make sure that everything is installed and configured correctly in the first place.
You also need to keep in mind that by design, SaaS applications are not a one-time purchase. Your ability to grow your business also depends in large part on not just getting new users, but retaining those users as well. Convincing people to pay in the early stages of a relationship is one thing – convincing them to stick around is another thing entirely. Therefore, you’ll want to do things like experimenting with your pricing to reward loyal users or starting referral programs to help with retention and new customer acquisition at the same time.
In a lot of ways, SaaS marketing is totally unique unto itself – but that doesn’t mean a lot of the tried-but-true “best practices” of marketing aren’t just as relevant as they ever were. Provided that you fully understand the end goals that your marketing strategy is built around, you’ll soon find that your business is growing in exactly the way that you need to stay prosperous for the next decade and beyond.